“I am a hormone casserole.”

November 22, 2015

Hello, friends.  IF you’re new to the ballad, feel free to peruse. I talk about my experience with the elemental diet here, with SIBO here, and recipes here. Remember how (in my last blog) I talked about the negative impact of positivity? How shoving positive thinking down everyones’ throats can be toxic? Yeah. I’m glad I wrote that, because this post will be anything but positive. Well, that’s not true, because it will be positively whiney.  I excel at whining.  If whining were an Olympic sport, I would be a gold medalist. Case and point: I already wrote this blog post once, and failed to properly save it.  I consequently whined about this for about 30 minutes straight to my husband, who just kept giving me side-eye God love him (he REALLY knows when to keep his mouth shut. It’s a gift).  But whatever. Blogs are like pancakes and your first child, the first one always turns out terribly. πŸ˜›


I have a confession to make: I am a hormonal disaster.  As517ce4dcc885d7ac47a5e199ba6d00ea many of you know, I had my left ovary removed (oophorectomy) a few months ago because of a cancerous mass found feeding off of it like a creepy little leech. A cancerous, ovarian leech. Your ovaries greatly regulate your female-ish hormones. When you lose one, ummmm…you have a period of…adjustment. “Adjustment” being a nice way to say “A period of feeling bat-shit crazy.”  I ain’t even gonna lie, kids, it’s been HARD. Because my particular tumor was producing giant amounts of hormone13estrogen, my body had adapted and adjusted. When that estrogen was taken away, my body reacted by turning me into a hormonal pot pie. This usually manifests itself into intense weepiness, with the occasional bout of sadistic angry. It’s very difficult to decipher what is hormonal and what is a true emotion, because it all feels real in the moment.  But regardless, it’s miserable. I’ll give you an example:


We (my husband Joe and I) reuse glass jars.  We use them as tupperware, as drinking glasses, and as storage options. As such, when we finish a jar of say, coconut oil, we have to peel off the label and clean the jar.  This is where it gets tricky (read: hormonal). The jars seem to multiply and reproduce and create little jar babies that stack up beside our kitchen sink. This always irritates me. Joe and I have a system where he is supposed to peel off the label and scrub the remnants off.  I, in turn, wash the jar and put it away.  Joe likes to wait until there are approximately 798 jars precariously stacked by our kitchen sink and THEN decide to clean off 2.  It always irks me. But now, with only Kanye West left (my right ovary), it apparently turns me into a hormonal version of Annie Wilkes.

hormone1
I walk past the sink.  I see the jars. I turn to Joe and ask, “Wh
en do you think you can get to those jars?”  He doesn’t look up from his book. “I don’t know. Sometime.” The rage starts rising up within me. “SOMETIME IS NOT AN ANSWER.” I say through clenched teeth. He looks up and blinks at me. “How about today?” I say in a fake cheerful voice (trying to convince myself to calm the f*ck down). “Maybe. We’ll see?” Joe looks at me with silent fear, calmly waiting to see if I erupt like Vesuvius.  The hormones win…I promptly lose my shit. I get so mad I can feel the sweat creeping in, I can feel the heat rising in my face.  Somewhere in my mind is a little voice saying, “Jars, Katie. This is about jars.” I ignore the stupid f*cking voice. I lash out and list every reason I hate the jars piled up. I list every reason every single f*cking thing on earth has ever made me mad.  I start a fight. I pick up a jar for emphasis and somehow resist the urge to hurl it against the wall. I leave the room in a huff, completely pissed and thoroughly convinced I am vindicated in my pissed-offedness.  20 minutes later, I sheepishly walk into the living room. I sit down next to Joe. I tell him I’m sorry. I cry.  He kindly soothes me and I cry harder. Then I start to laugh, because I know how nuts I sound. He looks a little frightened but then he laughs too. We sit and laugh together for a few minutes at my insanity. hormoneblogThen I start to get mad that he’s laughing so hard. “It’s NOT funny,” I begin to think. My face changes and my eyes narrow and he says, “Are you getting angry that I’m laughing too?” I slowly nod. Then we laugh again.


Obviously, I’m not really this bonkers.  It’s hormonal, it’s biological.  My body has lost an entire body part and is trying to regulate itself and readjust.  It’s a little miserable, but it will get there. But for now, this is my life.


hormone3
Since I believe in total transparency, I’ve been pretty open and forthcoming about my incredibly hormonal ridiculousness.  I talk about it openly on facebook and with my friends.  However, I just HAVE to discuss one thing. The response that has been driving me BATTY, is THIS reaction: “Oh wow. POOR JOE!!!!  How is he handling it?!?!  Is he ok?  I feel so bad for him!”  The immense  outpouring of sympathy for my husband is incredibly irritating.  And no, that’s not the hormones talking, that’s the feminist talking.


Firstly, thank you sooo much for expressing sooo much empathy for my husband as he goes through this incredibly difficult hormonal transition, while also trying to deal with a surprise diagnosis of cancer.  Oh wait, no he’s not. Whoops, I must have forgotten, as you did, that he’s actually NOT the one going through that.  Secondly, I know women are hormonally-challenged crazy bitch monsters, and it’s so immensely sad that men have to deal with us, except that it’s not. Men call us crazy and we women internalize it and refer to ourselves as crazy for reasons far more complex than this blog can go into.  This article actually nails it:

“Because she had a feeling, so she expressed it. Because she had an emotion, so she felt it. Because she had an opinion, so she communicated it. Because she got hurt, so she reacted to it. All of this, apparently, deemed her crazy. A close cousin of the word crazy is the word β€œhysteria.” Hysteria, which comes from the Greek word for uterus β€” would you look at that?”


Somehow, no one ever refers to men as “crazy” or “hormonal.”  Men only commit 98% of all violent crimes in the world.  Murders, rapes, trafficking, Johns, domestic violence, stalking, sexual abuse, assault…these are obviously well-thought out choices and the acts of extremely sane and calmhormone4 individuals, right? I mean really?The next time you see some dude in a bar lose his shit because some other guy accidentally bumped into him, or a girl dared to rebuff his drunken advances, or see him chase someone down that cut him off on the highway so he can try to beat the crap out of them…just remember that women are REALLY the crazy ones. Yeah. And no (before you attack me) I’m not trying to pit men against women here, just pointing out the irony of our backwards thinking on this subject.  


And lastly (and this is the real kicker) can we just for a hot minute, remember that my husband several years ago had hormone5thyroid cancer?  (Ok, I realize many of you did not know this but most of my friends and family do).  He had a complete thyroidectomy (removal of the thyroid and parathyroid).  Do you know what the thyroid controls?  Ding, ding, ding! Hormones!  After his surgery, my normally very even-keeled husband was a hormonal wreck.  He was downright mean as shit sometimes.  Do you know how many people expressed sympathy for me during this time? ZERO. Nada.  Not one person made a single remark to that effect.  Not one person ever commented on how hard it must be for ME, to Joe (yes, I asked him).  This is because we still largely view women as the “crazy” ones and express sympathy for the “poor men” that have to deal with us.  Well, I’m saying THAT is crazy. Yes, I’m hormonal.  And yes, my husband has to deal with it. But he can be extra patient and loving with me for a few months, just like I was with him.  He can and is.  So think before you automatically default to calling a woman crazy, simply because she is expressing an emotion or because she is “PMS-ing.”  Men are hugely emotional too, we just allow it more readily and give them permission to express their aggression in ways that we don’t allow women.


Are you still with me?  Hating me yet?  Are all of you changing your minds about me being so “positive” yet? Hahaha…now you see the assholeishness I’ve been referring to all along!  It feels good to unleash the ass!


…That was a very weird sentence.


Anywho, on the cancer front,hormone7 things are going really well.  I think I’m THISCLOSE to being considered in remission. I am just waiting on a few more blood tests to come back normal. I’ve been doing natural chemo sessions twice a week. Natural chemo, in case you’re wondering, is essentially high-dose vitamin C. If you’re interested in learning more about Ovarian cancer and vitamin C, try this article.  The side effects are minimal.  It causes fatigue that can range from mild to intense and usually only lasts a day or so.  It also causes mild headaches and achiness around the injection site.  So, small potatoes compared to Western chemo practices.  It’s a drip process, so each treatment takes about 2-3 hours.  I usually set myself up with blankets, water, a snack, and a book or ipad and settle in.  Last week I had a buddy in the room with me.  She is a breast cancer patient that has elected to treat her cancer naturally.  She was diagnosed at stage IV and has been totally kicking ass.  She looked great (she was 20 years older than me and looked my age…life is unfair) and told me that she was so glad she had gone this (natural) route.  To be clear, I advocate that everyone make their own decisions regarding treatment, so I’m not bashing Western medical approaches, but I do love combining both natural and Western medicine; both have validity and both are important.

My friend Sarah hormone6stopped by to give me this cancer “Dammit Doll” which is like a funny little voodoo doll for cancer patients.  It was super funny and cute, so I brought it to my appointment.  My awesome ND even threw some acupuncture into the doll’s pelvis for me while I got my treatment! Hahaha!  She said, “What if I put in some acupuncture points on the doll? Is that too weird?”  This is why I love her.  I was like, “THAT. IS. AWESOME. Yes, let’s do that and take pictures.” While I was getting treatment, it occurred to me how many women in my ovarian cancer group are sooo much more sick than myself.  I concocted an idea to send Debbie (Debbie Downer the Dammit Doll) to someone in the group with a care package full of fun Hawai’i things.  They in turn, must send it to someone else in the group that needs some hope, love, or extra courage. The group was totally game, which is super fun.  So, lil’ Debbie will be going on the trip of a lifetime!  πŸ™‚  


I also had a follow-up MRI this past week and passed withhormone8.jpg flying colors! Whooo hoooo!!!  Shortest bout of cancer EVAR, people. Let’s hope, anyway.  I’ll get monitored monthly for awhile, then every 3 months, then every 6 months.  The good news is, the type of cancer I have is very slow-growing. The bad news is that reoccurrence rates are quite high, so I want to keep on top of it.


Annnnnd that brings me to mah next item on the bitchlist. Since beginning this crazy health year, a lot of shit has been brought to my attention, specifically related to how others react to people that are ill.  As such, this is a list of what NOT to say/do to people that have cancer.  Mmmmmkay?


1). Oh, you have Ovarian cancer?  Wow.  My Mom/Aunt/Sister died of that. It was brutal.
REALLY?  That’s the first thing you want to say to me?  I’m never sure how to react when someone says this and confusingly, it’s a statement I get rather often. There is not an appropriate response. I usually just blink at them until hormone9they feel uncomfortable enough to try and dig a deeper hole…(“I mean…YOU’RE not going to die. Like plenty of women live, my Mom just wasn’t one of them…yeah.”). Sometimes they don’t get the hint and continue rambling about the brutality of that person’s demise.  My Mom died of lung cancer…do you know what is NEVER the first thing I say to someone who tells me they or someone they love has lung cancer?  Yeah.  That.  


2)
Ooooohhhh…you should try ____ diet!  Or ____ herbs!  Or I read an article about 17 years ago that stated you should try to eat ____ !  (Then they look at me proudly, like they’ve just given me the key to ending my cancer diagnosis). 
I have gotten so much unsolicited advice in the last few months that my head could explode.  I now officially understand how my pregnant friends feel.  Don’t get me wrong, I DO know that this usually comes from a very good place. They’re concerned, they care about me, and they want to contribute something or feel like they’re doing something helpful. I DO get it. But I need you all to get that it’s frustrating sometimes.  


I am on a very restricted diet already for my multiplehormone15 digestive issues. Therefore no, I don’t need to go gluten-free or low-sugar (already there!) or try that new alkaline or ketogenic diet or that rare fruit only found in the hills of the Galapagos that is SURE to cure my cancer.  Not only is diet a pretty personal choice, but I can’t go all-raw-vegetarian because my insides would kill me.  So please just stop. I know you mean well, but pleeeeeeaaaase.  I cannot take another message about what I “should” be eating. I’m on top of it. I promise.


3) I came across this article and thought it might be especially helpful for you!
Ok, this one I realize might make me sound like a dick. A few friends have sent me a few articles on cancer.  Peer-reviewed, medical journal articles.  This is fine.  I actually will read them.  However, I think people see the word “cancer” and think to themselves, “Hmmm Katie has cancer…this is surely applicable to her!”  Not always. An article on prostate cancer isn’t going to be much help to me (seriously…that happened).  I have a specific type of cancer that is in fact, quite rare.  I appreciate being thought of, I truly do. But it becomes almost an obligation when so many people are sending you articles…to read them, to thank the person for thinking of you, and to respond adequately.  I alsohormone16 get crazy, non-scholarly, fear-mongering articles for the same reason; they see cancer, they send it to me.  This is even more frustrating, for the same reasons listed above, with the addition of having to explain to a person that’s just trying to help (in a nice, patient way) why the article sounds cray -cray. πŸ˜›  So I kindly ask you to just take a beat before sending something to me.  Is it REALLY applicable? Will it actually be useful? Because if not, it just causes more stress.  


There are more, but I won’t drone on complaining (er, more). I realize (having been there myself) that you want to help. It’s hard when someone you know and love or care about is going through something scary or weird that you don’t understand.  But there are better ways.  I am a person that has trouble asking for help.  I am very in tune with my feelings, but I have a tendency to downplay them.  When someone asks, “How are you?” I am going to say, “Fine.”  I feel guilty complaining, I feel guilty unloading on someone else.  I feel guilty talking about my SIBO or cancer or any other health ailment when I know other people have it far, far worse.  I feel silly, I feel like I’m asking for pity.  So, having said that, here are some things you can do that WILL help.  πŸ™‚


1) Don’t just ask how I am, REALLY ask specific questions.
Most people will not just blurt out their woes automatically. You have to dig a little.  They have to feel safe talking to you about it and they have to feel like you care enough to dig.  If someone doesn’t dig, I don’t talk, because I assume that means they don’t REALLY want to hear it.  Asking more relevant questions helps, because it goes beyond the canned niceties of “How are you?”


2) Think of ways to help, ask what the person needs, and follow through.
hormone17So many friends have said to me, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do!” to which I always, ALWAYS respond, “No, thank you though!”  It’s a sweet sentiment and I’ve said it myself to others. But it’s often hollow. What helps more is thinking outside of the box.  I have a wonderful friend that always thinks of what would help, logistically.  He asks me if I need a ride to the doctor. He asks if he can go to the grocery for me. He asks if he can pick up meds or bring me takeout. It’s awesome (shout-out Manu!  You da best!). I might still say no, but I’m more like to say, “You know what?  That really WOULD help.  Thank you.”


3) Be there.  Be available. Answer the phone. Stick with plans.
This is the biggest one for me.  Be there.  Just be there.  I rarely reach out, but when I do, reach back.  It’s what John Gottman calls “bids.”  If I call you on a random Tuesday and I don’t normally do so, that’s probably me reaching out.  If you can’t answer, call back when you can.  Send a text, shoot a fb message. My phone call is a “bid” for a personal connection. When you don’t respond in any way, you’re breaking that connection.  And when one is already feeling sad or lost or vulnerable, it can be even more hurtful than normal. The tiniest connection or checking in can help.  It makes one feel loved. If you makehormone18 plans, stick with them (if at all possible…I DO realize that sometimes things come up that we can’t control).  If you want to really help, simply make the other person know that they can turn to you, lean on you. Don’t make them hunt you down. Don’t allow them to call you 7 times without returning their call. That’s not how you treat someone you care about.  And it’s incredibly isolating for the person reaching out.  And hey – this doesn’t just go for friends…it stands with family (and a personal thank you and mahalo to my Aunt Sandy and my Aunt Cathy for reaching out AND back with kindness and love!) and lovers, also.  This article talks about relationship bids and how important it is that they’re met.  


What’s been shocking to me throughout all of this health stuff is who HAS shown up.  I remember my Mother talking about this when she was really ill. She was sort of perplexed by the response she got.  She had friends and coworkers that never checked on her, never stopped by, never called her when she was ill…some of these people were the ones she thought would be MOST there for her.  Then there are the surprises…the people you may not consider close friends or family that shock you by checking on you, sending you kind notes and texts and messages.  Those people are gifts.  Revel in them.  Lean on THEM, if you have to.  I have a friend that I’ve known for…damn, almost 20 years.  We were never CLOSE, really. We went to high school together and I always really liked her, but we just weren’t super tight.  We became closer friends, if that’s possible, on facebook.  We formed a real connection and she has been such a sweet source of kindness to me (shout out Jennifer Teague!!!  :P). She somehow remembers my appointments and treatments, texts me, and sends me encouraging messages.  It does NOT go unnoticed, Jennifer.  It’s those short little “check-ins” that take about 3 minutes that seriously mean a lot.  So if you’re searching for how to support someone in your life better, I hope this bitchfest blog helps you a little.


4) Apologize, and be better.
If, like me, you’re a disaster of a human being sometimes and you f*ck up and realize you’ve been a terrible self-absorbed ass of a friend, apologize.  Sincerely apologize.  Suck it up, call the person you’ve wrongly or unintentionally ignored, and tell them so.  And then make an effort to do better.hormone19 Because honestly, unless an apology comes with a change in behavior, it’s worthless.  It’s lip service.  For some reason, it’s very difficult for some people to admit when they’re wrong. Don’t be one of those people. We’re all wrong sometimes.  Hell, I’m wrong about 70% of the time, about everything. But at least I’ve learned to recognize it and apologize for it.  It took me about 33 years to learn that. You should learn it faster, because it will greatly improve your life and relationships.  And I’m historically a very slow learner.  πŸ˜›


Obviously, these things can be applied to other difficult illnesses or stressors in life.  Maybe you’re really sick with Lyme, or SIBO, or going through a really intense bout of depression.  Maybe you’re grieving over the loss of a loved one or mending a broken heart…the same principles still apply.  It’s been a difficult health year, but I know that in so many respects I’ve been super fortunate. And I am oh-so-thankful for the help and love I’ve received from certain people in my life.  More thankful than I can ever express.  


Onto a SIBO report!  Several people recently have asked what I’m doing to keep my SIBO at bay.  This is important, because once you’ve beaten back the SIBO dragon, you wanna keep that little bastard away.  I’m coming up on 6.5 months SIBO free. So, because the rest of this blog has been about lists, I’ll just list what I do to help keep those festering, disgusting bacteria away.


1)
Diet:
I try to adhere (with some failings here and there) to the Fasthormone11 Tract Diet about 80% of the time.  I generally allow about 2-3 “cheats” a week now and handle that without trouble.  If I cheat more than that, I start to develop symptoms like bloating, a rash (from gluten), or potty problems. While I am able to tolerate soooo much more food than I used to, I know I need to be cautious about diet for a long time to come, maybe even forever.  (Sorry, I know you were hoping for something else!)


2)
A “maintenance” dose of herbals one week a month:
This is something my ND and I conjured up and it seems to be working so far. Every 3 weeks or so, I take Neem, Oregano (ADP), and Berberine for 1 week. This is just to stave off any bacterial overgrowth happening.  You can’t stay on these pills for long lengths of time, so intermittently  taking them has a strong effect.


3) Exercise:
 
hormone12I know, I know…you don’t feel good and don’t want to and you are tired of me harping on about it.  But do it anyway, if possible.  Exercise not only helps motility, it improves mood and circulation and a whole myriad of things that are wonderful for SIBO.  Even after my surgery, I was walking up to 6 miles a day. If you can only do a short walk, do that walk.  If you can run only 1 mile, enjoy that mile. Light yoga, weights, biking, swimming, whatever tickles your fancy. Just MOVE.


4) Acupuncture to stimulate the Illeocecal Valve:
I’ve kinnnda been slacking on this lately because of the vitamin c treatments. I’m already at the doctor like 6 hours a week, but once I finish my treatments, I will resume this. My ND thinks I have some IC Valve dysfunction, so I believe this can be really helpful.  She (and I) still do some ICV massage (as detailed on my SIBO Guide page under “videos”) as well.


5) Supplements:

As detailed also on my SIBO Guide page, I am still taking my supplements daily for maintenance and healing.  I’ve recently added a “Happy Hormone” supplement to help curtail my raging nuttiness, but I haven’t been on it long enough to review it yet.


6) Still digging deep to understand my body and the connection of SIBO to other things:
I firmly believe that SIBO is NOT the issue, for pretty much everyone. SIBO is a symptom of something else going wrong. It’s the effect, not the cause.  It’s super important to isolate what the cause(s) are for your individual case.  I am still researching and learning about the mind/body/gut connection.  I did genetic testing and have spent a lot of timehormone14 doing blood tests, stool tests, and endless hours reading about this stuff. To be fair, you don’t have to go THAT overboard (I am an all-or-nothing kinda lady) but working with a good doc to learn why you got SIBO in the first place is key, key KEY! So many seem to think that if they get rid of SIBO, all will be well.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  It will ONLY if you have discovered the underlying culprit.  And if you remain dedicated and diligent in treating it and other issues.  Not what you wanted to hear? I know. But honesty is the name of the game on this blog. So uncover your ears and open your eyes and get to work.  πŸ˜›


Don’t you just LOVE how I boss you around? Sorry about that. I get on my little bloggy high horse sometimes.  But I hope something I’ve written about today has resonated with you and helped in some small way.  We’re all a work in progress, most especially this girl, and I am super grateful to you guys for doing the work WITH me.  It feels a little less lonely. Tomorrow is a Monday, so chin up, set your jaw in a stubborn fashion, and get to work getting better and healthier. You can do it, and do it with sass and attitude.  β€

hormone20
The one that’s been “there” for me the most. πŸ™‚

 

4 Responses to ““I am a hormone casserole.””

  1. GJ said

    Love your blog. It makes me smile!

    Like

  2. You’re amazing. Thank you for being authentic! All the best to you and your husband on your journey. ❀

    Like

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